GLOBAL – IWSR projects the growth of the total global vodka category as a whole in the next five years to remain largely flat even as the drink generally tends towards more premium launches.

The global premium-and-above segment has seen more positive growth, expanding in volume consumption by +6% in 2022, with the expected growth of +3% volume CAGR 2022–27. The move towards premium is also noticeable across flavored vodka, Vodka RTDs, and ready-to-serve (RTS).

The RTD and RTS categories have grown in recent years, thanks to several factors, including the growing demand for convenience and greater acceptance of these formats.

Vodka is well placed to capitalize on these trends, as the hard seltzer boom of a few years ago is replaced by spirit-based RTDs, and as demand for pre-mixed classic cocktails grows.

RTD cocktails / long drinks, for example, saw global volumes increase by +10% in 2021-2022 and are expected to grow at a volume CAGR of +6% in 2022-2027.

In the US, vodka-based RTDs command the largest share and growth rate within the spirit-based RTD market.

IWSR also points out that innovation in the vodka category has led to flavored expressions that span a full spectrum from subtle to overt. Producers are not only highlighting the flavors present in the raw materials used but using additional ingredients in a measured way.

Expanding its range of flavors is Absolut, with its launch of a trio of new additions that nod to contemporary drinks trends. The new Absolut Wild Berri contains no added sugar, while Absolut Tropical Fruit has a mid-level ABV of just 20%.

Among the latest flavors from Absolut is one intended to blur the lines between spirits categories, namely vodka, and tequila.

The new Absolut Smoky Piña combines flavors of chili and smoky pineapple. To strengthen the association with tequila, the brand recommends serving the expression as a shot garnished with a pineapple wedge and chili salt.

This launch taps into the trending agave spirits category, as well as the rising popularity of Mexican flavors in general.

Vodkas, which historically have been more concerned with premium cues, purity credentials, and overt flavors, are now shifting to highlighting their place of origin, as well as creating spirits from specific origins. This is a trend that IWSR has categorized as provenance and focuses on ingredients.

To also keep pace with other alcoholic drinks in being earth-friendly, sustainability and social responsibility are a priority for contemporary vodka brands.

Some vodka brands are now made with grain sourced locally from the brand’s owned farms, located near the brand’s water source and distillery, to reduce its carbon footprint, and packaged in what is said to be the first 100% recycled glass bottle on the market.

Others are tackling food waste with part of its base spirit produced from apples that would otherwise have been discarded, such as Ugly Vodka. Produced in Australia, the brand’s first batch is said to have saved 20 tonnes of apples from going to waste.

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